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Bronze keeps U.S. medal streak intact in women's basketball

Published Sep. 29, 2005

With a history of medals staring at them, the U.S. women came through Saturday in basketball at the Pan American Games.

They won the bronze medal with an impressive 85-59 victory over Brazil, which defeated the Americans in preliminary play. The United States continued its streak of earning a medal in women's basketball in every Pan Ams since the sport was added in 1955.

"I told them about that before the game," coach Nell Fortner said. "I said if we don't win, we're the only USA team that goes home without a medal in the Pan Am Games. They need to know things like that. I think that served as extra motivation and they came out and played hard."

Amy Herrig scored 16 of her 18 in the first half. Edwina Brown took it from there, scoring 13 of her 19 in the second half.

The United States, which had blown a 13-point halftime lead in the first meeting with Brazil, had no letdown this time. Leading 42-26 at the break, the Americans made their first eight shots of the second half _ four by Brown.

"Every game that we've had a lead, whether it be two points, three points, 15 or 16 points, we kind of lost it in the first five minutes," Brown said. "So we wanted to target the first five minutes of the second half and just give it everything we had. We weren't going to let them on a run and we weren't going to be beat."

Neither was Janette Piesczynski, who won the women's bowling gold medal by one pin, giving the United States its third title in the sport. Piesczynski of Cheektowaga, N.Y., beat Alicia Marcano of Venezuela 216-205 in the 16th and last match. That was enough to beat Marcano 3,328 to 3,327 for the gold.

"I checked the scores after every match today," she said. "I said I wouldn't, but I wanted to know where I stood."

After Piesczynski got two strikes in the final frame, Marcano needed to strike out in the 10th for a tie. She got the first two, but left the 7 pin standing on her last shot.

Both the U.S. men and women won the team events earlier.

The American men weren't so fortunate in softball, losing on a controversial call in the bottom of the seventh to Canada 4-3. It was the sixth straight Pan Ams gold for the Canadian men.

Kevin Bobroske's infield single off pitcher Michael White's glove with the bases loaded and two out won it.

The inning was extended when U.S. first baseman Shawn Rychcik was ruled off the bag on a routine groundout; replays clearly showed he was touching the base.

The Americans argued to no avail.

"You'd rather see a base hit straight off the bat or a home run," Rychcik said. "Lose that way and you always have doubt."

The world champion American women moved to 11-0 in softball and into a night game for the gold medal against Canada, whom they beat 5-0 in the morning.

Lisa Fernandez pitched a three-hitter and struck out 17 for her third victory in the Games.

Wes Barnett, chosen by Team USA captains to carry the flag for today's Closing Ceremony, won a bronze in the 105-kilogram weightlifting class. It was not what Barnett of St. Joseph, Mo., had in mind.

"I'm very disappointed," he said after Ecuador's Boris Burov won the gold and Cuba's Michel Batista De Moya took the silver. "I certainly didn't come here for a bronze medal. I really came in looking to do some big things, but I was sluggish."

Omar Narvaez of Argentina beat Jose Navarro of Los Angeles 10-1 for the flyweight gold medal in boxing.

The hosts surprised the highly ranked United States synchronized swimming team for the gold.